What would a demon-themed month be without looking at the fiercest demon villains? There are many demon villains out there, ranging from horror movie classics to Supernatural foes to anime bishounen. S’all good, man. We’re going to go back to our childhoods this time and enter the land of nostalgia with the antagonists of InuYasha.
InuYasha‘s villains break the mold when it comes to usual anime villains. They’re a serious challenge to the cocky, headstrong, immature hero InuYasha (means Dog Demon). Their role is to make him grow up into the half-demon his father would’ve wanted. Like all villains, they’re among the most interesting characters of the series! Ready to pay them a visit and see what they have to teach us?
Just kidding. Onward!
The Loyal Kappa
First up is Jaken. That’s right Sesshōmaru‘s loyal little imp servant. Kappa in Japanese folklore are creatures that live in ponds and play tricks on people. These tricks can turn deadly: murder, rape, eating the flesh of its victims… Or it might just look up your kimono. Who knows! The kappa of InuYasha aren’t really like this.
Jaken is devoted to Shesshomaru because the demon lord saved, by a roundabout way, Jaken during a demon attack on the imp’s village. Jaken has since devoted himself totally to Sesshomaru, practically worshiping him. Jaken does the menial tasks or those that would ruin Sesshomaru’s demon reputation. This includes watching the orphan Rin when Sesshomaru is out on important demon lord business. Jaken does this despite hating humans.
He is a servant, and Sesshomaru treats him as such. But for a kappa, I guess it’s a good deal.
Jaken’s loyalty is his biggest asset and his biggest weakness. As an asset, it allows him to see the good side of his master, even when Sesshomaru is being…blunt, moody, aloof, irritable, etc. Loyalty lets Jaken overlook a multitude of quirks in Sess that would drive other servants away. In reward for the devotion, he is under the protection of one of the most powerful Demon Lords around, the son of the Great Dog Demon, wielder of the Tenseiga.
Our loyalty to people and organizations, while sometimes distasteful, provides benefits. We need to remember these benefits when we’re starting to rethink our devotion. But we must also remember why we are loyal in the first place. Is it tradition? Ease of use? Benefits? Or do we even feel we owe something to the object of our faithfulness? The best reason for loyalty is, of course, love. I don’t think Jaken loves Sesshomaru, as such, but his loyalty goes beyond just repaying a debt. I say he doesn’t love, because he often grumbles about his work and says Sess will “kill” him if he doesn’t do it. This fate probably isn’t accurate, but Jaken still cites it as a motivation. If your loyalty’s foundation isn’t love, what is it? Figure out what it is. That way, when you’re feeling rebellious or doubtful, you can refer to the reason. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.
As a detriment, Jaken’s loyalty blinds him to Sesshomaru’s faults and others’ virtues. He will always take his master’s side. What his master says, goes. Our loyalty, especially when it’s to organizations, can blind us to their flaws. We must work extra hard to pull our heads out of our rears and look at our “idols” objectively. As I said above, how much do they deserve your devotion? There’s a difference between loyalty that’s admirable for its strength, and loyalty that’s idiotic because of its blind tenacity.
The Perfect Killer
That’s what Sesshomaru‘s name means. If you know his full story, you’re smiling right now. Sess started as a hard-core villain, then slid to antagonist, then protagonist/anti-hero. He’d never admit it, of course. Sesshomaru is nothing if not dignified and proud. He is the pure-bred demon son of the Great Dog Demon. He exemplifies the admirable traits and characteristics of demons. As a demon lord, he keeps it classy. While I could ramble on for pages about his grandeur and general awesomeness in a completely unbiased manner, I shall keep it brief. (It’s like he’s my favorite character or anything, no, no sir, not at all. Hah!)
Powers & Abilities:
Master Swordsman: Sesshomaru wields three demon swords in battle. These aren’t normal swords, either. They are demonic swords and have a will of their own. Interestingly, the sword he inherited from his father actually resurrects the dead. At first Sess was pissed off about this. He deserved the Tessaiga, a blade that summoned the Wind Scar and unleashed immense destruction. But his father instead saw to it even beyond death that Sess’s half brother InuYasha would have that blade. Tenseiga would teach Sesshomaru compassion as he revived the orphan girl Rin. She would become a powerful force in his life.
Swords: Tessaiga, which resurrects its target; Tokijin, which is evil thanks to its base material, a demon’s fangs; Bakusaiga, which can eradicate and decompose any organic material, nullifying regenerative abilities.
Incredible Power: Naraku, the series’ most dangerous demon villain, called Sesshomaru the perfect demon, even admitting Sess was more powerful than himself. This is no small compliment, as we’ll see in a moment. Sesshomaru can match any foe, if not in sheer power, then in strategy and technique.
As a demon lord, he possesses superhuman speed, strength, endurance. He can travel as lightning, fly, stick a demon arm where his arm used to be and use it as his own. His senses are enhanced. Telekinesis and super-fast regeneration come with the package.
And let’s not forget a little thing called immortality.
The most fun? He can transform into a massive dog, his true demon form. This actually isn’t as effective as his human form, though.
Other techniques in fighting include Dokkasou (毒華爪, Toxic Luster Claw) and Poison Resistance. Then there’s Mokomoko-sama (モコモコ様, lit. Lord Fluff-Fluff): The fur on Sesshomaru’s shoulder can grow to a whip. Then there’s another, the Poison Whip: a strand of yellow-green energy from his fingertips
And did I mention he’s hot? Yeah.
Still doubting he’s the perfect demon? Didn’t think so.
Sesshomaru’s image is very important to him. He must always appear as the dignified, refined, powerful demon lord. He must show no weakness, no compassion, no feeling.
While most of us aren’t nearly as aloof and stoic as he is, we all have an image to maintain. It might be that we want to appear respectable, or fun-loving, or strong, or superior, or funny, or “bad.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of putting image above all else. We change our interests, activities, and behavior to fit our preferred image. This could be a good thing, like not joining in shady activities when our friends do. Of it can be a bad thing: we don’t associate with a person because they’re below us, or we avoid doing a new activity because it’s not “cool.” God forbid we lose “street cred” by being ourselves! If we stick to closely to our image, we start to lose who we really are. Worst of all, it can stunt our growth as people. If we don’t try new ways of thinking, new ways of doing things, new people to hang out with, we miss opportunities. Sesshomaru almost missed out on the benefit of raising Rin.
Another problem with maintaining our image or or ego is that we look down on our weaknesses. Actually, I should say we choose traits and characteristics to label as weak. This is a lame example, but oh well: a jock looks down on a geek, and vice versa. We don’t give credit to people for their strengths. By the same token, we don’t try to leverage our weaknesses into strengths. For instance: Not good at social interaction? Work on it often and hard. Hone your abilities. Work on your weaknesses as if they were muscles. Lift, bro! Don’t use them as an excuse to atrophy; get out there and get those gains!
The Bitter Bandit
Now the demon villain you’ve been waiting for: Naraku. Practically impossible to kill, responsible for most of the protagonists’ misfortunes, able to manipulate humans and demons like a master puppeteer, Naraku is flat-out terrifying. His biggest strength is his subtly. He worms into people lives, turns them against each other, and laughs at the ensuing pain.
Naraku is the fusion of the bandit Onigumo (“demon group”) and a pack of lesser demons. He was a crippled human whom Kikyo cared for. She was beautiful, and his lust for her grew powerful. But she’d never have him. Frustrated, he made a deal with a horde of minor demons, saying they could eat his flesh if they gave him a new body. Somehow he didn’t bargain on them being evil. Huh. The newly created half-demon caused Kikyo’s demise as he tried to corrupt and possess the Shikon Jewel, a powerful magic item. He wanted to force her to use the jewel to save her own skin. This would corrupt both woman and jewel.
Naraku has many, many dangerous and horrifyingly cool powers.
I could write a whole article on his powers, and I might at some point, but today a list will have to suffice. This is from Villains Wikia, an amazing resource for all things villainous.
Control of Form: First, he chooses when he reverts to his original non-demon form. This is unique among half-yokai. He reverts to a head attached to multiple demons.
Saimyōshō: Wasps from Hell. They stop the Wind Tunnel (giant vacuum tunnel in a monk’s hand) from being used. If sucked in, they poison the monk. They’re also great for communicating with subordinates, gathering Jewel Shards, and generally killing things.
Shape-Shifting: While he uses the body of the young lord, Kagewaki, he can take any form. He used this skill to impersonate Kikyo and make Inuyasha hate her. InuYasha can still smell his true scent, though.
Enhanced Strength: Fairly standard among powerful demons.
Super Speed and Flight: Bullet time with Superman flight. Great!
Absorption: Naraku can absorb and control other demons and their body parts into his own body. This is how he restructures his form. Tentacles are a common use. It’s as creepy as it sounds.
Incarnation Creation: Naraku could make incarnations out of his own body. He keep their hearts to ensure obedience. Death is the reward for disobedience.
Battle skills: Energy Blast: The horns on his elbows shoot a zigzag beam. Armor Shell: Mōryōmaru’s impenetrable shell. Barrier: This hides his presence and acts as armor against magical attacks like the Wind Scar (Kaze no Kizo). Deflection: He can turn an enemy attack back against the foe. Miasma Manipulation: Naraku’s trademark, a poison gas that is deadly. Stop laughing. It’s no joke.
Detachable, Controllable Body Pieces: Basically he can detach parts and send them scouting. His head is a favorite piece to detach.
Spider Webs: No, not like Spidey’s. These corrupt the hearts of those they touch. The spider is also his emblem.
Psionics: levitation, telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, mind control, illusion-casting, and astral projection.
Regeneration: While it takes time to regenerate, he’s still amazingly fast at it.
Copies: He can make copies of himself. Also he can create incarnations. They range from the Infant to the Sisters. Yes, weird.
Immortality: Sure, why not. I’ve lost count how many times he’s “died.” But, and spoilers here, only Kagome’s purifying arrow shot at the height of her spiritual powers could destroy him as she shot through his Shikon Jewel.
Defensive Powers: Phantom Castle: The “Phantom Castles” are temporary headquarters. Dormancy: Naraku can bury himself inside his servants. This is how he fakes his own death so well. The spider mark appears on the back of the host if Naraku is in residence.
Swordsmanship and Magic: D&D rules have no power here!
His biggest strength, though, is his intelligence – emotional and otherwise. He is a genius at tactics and strategy. His long term plans are impressive.
Though he claims he doesn’t understand love, he must, for he knows how to use it and subvert it. He tears apart relationships with ease. And he knows how to manipulate individuals.
How many times have we sacrificed for our lusts? Greed blinds us, and we make stupid decisions. Many times they have lasting implications for our lives. We sacrifice what really matters – relationships, health, time – for things that don’t matter, like money, fame, power, pleasure. But these will never lead to lasting peace. Onigumo sacrificed his soul and gained…demons and damnation. Only after purification and admitting his lust did he find peace.
We also like to take the short, easy route. I know I do! But that route has it’s own troubles, many of which will cost use most dearly. People spend more time looking for shortcuts and excuses than they do actually working on their problem. Be careful that shortcut doesn’t lead through quick sand.
Power doesn’t make a victor. It’s how you use it and how you fight it. Here’s a hint: the direct attack, force on force, actually diminishes power. Use it wisely instead. Take the roundabout way, and by the same token be on the lookout for others using their power, even if it’s small, in a tactful manner.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.
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